Interview: Drax Project on their jazz roots, Kiwi upbringing and ‘Mad At You’

As they’ll tell you, it’s very likely you’ve heard Drax Project without realising this pop RnB collective was from New Zealand.

Shaan Singh, Sam Thomson, Matt Beachen and Ben O’Leary met while studying jazz, each specialising in their respective instruments when they came together to busk in order to pay their rent.

The four quickly realised what sounds were working for them: riff-heavy pop tracks that injected a bit of life into the Wellington sidewalks.

Years later, they’ve taken this recipe and broken into the international market with their 2017 single “Woke Up Late” (which was later rereleased with a Hailee Steinfeld feature, starring Liza Koshy in the music video), released their eponymous debut album, navigated the pandemic to now giving us a taste of what’s to come with “Mad At You”.

This single is about forgiveness, which Shaan says originally started as a six-years-old voice memo that Matt dug up from an old WhatsApp chat.

It was like the day before we were going to like write some music and [Matt]’s like, ‘Yo, remember this?’,” said Shaan.

I was just like this is perfect. Matt had this beat ready. We had the melody ready. We did it in like a few hours.

It’s apparently one of the smoother RnB tracks in their upcoming body of work – an EP and possibly even an album before the end of 2022.

We have 40 songs on a whiteboard in our studio and we’re just good as ticking them off,” said Shaan.

For the full low down on the band’s rise to success from their early days busking while painting houses, to being discovered at a Camila Cabello gig by Hailee Steinfeld to what they’ve been up to more recently, watch our interview below:

“Mad At You” by Drax Project is OUT NOW.

Tait McGregor